The Guardian: Driverless car crashes and data theft: law experts predict the court cases of the future
What happens when your smart home locks you out, or a smart thermostat causes a fire? New technologies bring challenges for the law over liability for flawed software, hacked devices and identity theft
Very happy to have had a small role in this content. Originally published in The Guardian Driverless car crashes and data theft: law experts predict the court cases of the future | Legal horizons | The Guardian
The rise of technologies such as driverless cars, the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities will result in a proliferation of legal cases to establish who is responsible for automated, intelligent devices, while hackers and fraudsters take advantage of such innovations to find new ways to pry money out of people and companies. Meanwhile, in a bid to keep pace, regulators are writing new laws that require interpretation, while the courts re-imagine existing laws for the connected age.
Here, experts in the law and new technology predict the court cases of tomorrow, from class-action data-breach suits to liability for failures across smart homes, the IoT and self-driving cars. Technology is progressing at what seems like an ever-increasing rate. So, is the law as it stands able to provide clarity in this brave – and complicated – new world?
A car crash waiting to happen
Driverless cars are hurtling into the present, promising safer roads without inattentive humans behind the wheel. But there’s still work to do: on the same day that Google’s Waymo announced its driverless cars had been approved for public testing without a human behind the wheel, a Nayva driverless shuttle in Las Vegas took no evasive action to prevent a lorry from reversing into it.
In the UK, driverless vehicles are already being tested in Milton Keynes, Greenwich and elsewhere, with varying levels of automation. While it’s likely to be many years until fully driverless cars take over, UK transport secretary Chris Grayling believes completely self-driving cars will be on British roads by 2021.
Their arrival could be a boon for road safety around the world. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 94% of crashes in the US are due to human error. Worldwide, says the World Health Organization, 1.25 million people die each year as a result of traffic accidents.
Despite this, one of the most common debates about driverless cars centres on what happens when driverless cars are involved in an accident: how do we decide who is at fault? It may not be as difficult as it sounds, says Joseph Raczynski, legal technologist and applications integrator with Thomson Reuters.
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